How much is that old refrigerator in the garage costing me?

It’s awesome for keeping soda and beer cold, but what’s the annual cost?

The Energy Star website has a cool calculator that can help you do the math. Make sure you put in our local electric rate of $0.22 per kilowatt-hour.

Here are the annual electricity cost calculations for a few refrigerators with freezers on top (19.0 to 21.4 cubic-feet):

It was cheap, but how much does it cost to plug in?
  • 1990-1992. Annual cost: $283
  • 1993-2000. Annual cost: $189
  • 2001-2008. Annual cost: $118
  • 2009-present (Energy Star). Annual cost: $90

If you have a refrigerator that dates back to 1992, it might be worth your while to ditch it – or at least to upgrade to a more efficient model. An Energy Star qualified refrigerator today will cost about $90 annually in electricity. How long would it take you to recoup the costs of purchasing a new refrigerator? Less than five years; see below:

1992 fridge

Initial cost: $25 at a garage sale (or maybe you moved the old fridge from the kitchen and it was free.) Regardless of how cheap it was, it’s still costing you a lot.

5 years of electricity to operate it: $1,415

Total: $1,440

New fridge (Energy Star)

Initial cost: $674

5 years of electricity to operate it: $450

Total: $1,124

When shopping for a new fridge, keep in mind that top and bottom freezer models use 10 to 25 percent less electricity than side-by-side models (energystar.gov). Also, generally the smaller the fridge, the less energy it consumes.

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